Sciency Words is a special series here on Planet Pailly where we take a look at new and interesting scientific terms to help us all expand our scientific vocabularies together. Today’s word is words are:
VENOMOUS AND POISONOUS
Since I was away on vacation last week and missed my regular Sciency Words post, today you get two words. I’m sure you already know the terms “venomous” and “poisonous,” but do you know the distinction between them?
Both terms involve toxic substances that could make you sick or potentially kill you. With both terms, these substances originate from animals. The distinction comes from how these animals deliver their venom/poison.
Venomous animals inject their venom by means of, for example, sharp, nasty fangs; whereas poisonous animals secrete their poison by other means, perhaps oozing it on their skin as a self defense mechanism. In short, if an animal bites you and you get sick, the animal was venomous. If you bite, touch, or lick an animal and get sick, the animal was poisonous.
During my vacation, as I trudged through the forests of Georgia, encountering many a spider and snake, I became quite concerned. Not because of the animals themselves but because I was worried about using the wrong words to describe them. Next time I stumble upon venomous and/or poisonous animals in the wilderness, I’ll feel much better prepared, now that I know which adjective is which.